The Real Top 25

The Worst of the Best in College Football

20. FRESNO STATE (11-2)
Fresno was everyone's sentimental pick for the national championship until back-to-back losses to Boise State and Hawaii derailed their undefeated season. The Bulldogs' kick coverage guy Kendall Edwards was, according to Sports Illustrated, the envy of coaches at eight schools—including Texas and Notre Dame—for his aggressive play early in the season. But his cheap shot on punt returner Tim Gilligan in the aforementioned nationally televised game against Boise State caused the WAC to suspend him for one game; coach Pat Hill removed him from the kick-coverage team. (Graduation rate, all students: 42 percent; football players: 28 percent)

21. WASHINGTON (8-3)
Troubled tight end Jerramy Stevens pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run property damage after a vehicle he was driving last May crashed into a senior citizens complex. He was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and was suspended for the first half of the Huskies' opener against Michigan. His coach, Rick Neuheisel, meanwhile, received a 35 percent pay raise over the summer to bump his salary to $1.2 million per year. (Graduation rate, all students: 70 percent; football players: 55 percent)

22. OHIO STATE (7-4)
Buckeye QB Steve Bellisari missed Senior Day last month because he was suspended following his arrest on two counts of alleged drunken driving. The QB's suspension was lifted December 12. One count was dismissed, and he pleaded no contest to the other one; he's slated to serve three days in jail—after the Buckeyes play in the Outback Bowl on January 1. Meanwhile, his former coach, John Cooper, fired by OSU last winter, was under investigation by Franklin County prosecutors because of an unexplained $2000 on expense reports filed with the school. Calling it a "record-keeping error," Cooper repaid the money last spring and the matter was dropped. (Graduation rate, all students: 56 percent; football players: 33 percent)

Illustration by Stan Shaw

23. LOUISVILLE (10-2)
After last season, the Cardinals signed coach John L. Smith to an eight-year contract extension, paying him roughly $800,000 a year. UL is a big spender in general, though. Its athletic budget of $27.1 million rivals that of many big-time conference programs, despite its standing in the relatively minor Conference USA. (Graduation rate, all students: 30 percent; football players: 29 percent)

In response to Florida coach Steve Spurrier's attacks, FSU AD Dave Hart said, "Bobby Bowden represents integrity and class." Guess Hart has missed the litany of player arrests and legal problems plaguing the Seminole program in recent years. This year, nose guard Jeff Womble was suspended for the season opener against Duke for violating team rules. He and defensive end O.J. Jackson were arrested for alleged misdemeanor possession of marijuana this summer. Jackson was not suspended; his possession charge was dismissed. Womble completed a term of pre-trial intervention to avoid having the offense appear on his record. (Graduation rate, all students: 63 percent; football players: 53 percent)

25. TOLEDO 9-2
Interim athletic director Mike Karabin has had a change of heart. Three months after a tearful announcement that he would not apply for the full-time AD position at the school following his arrest for DUI in July, Karabin said he would indeed file for the position, which pays roughly $125,000 per year. Karabin's case was scheduled to go to trial last week. (Graduation rate, all students: 36 percent; football players: 59 percent)

This poll combines the AP college football Top 25 rankings with the NCAA's findings on institutional ethical conduct, graduation rates, and exploitation of African American athletes. Graduation rates and enrollment data cover entering freshmen from 1991-1992 through 1994-1995, all given six years to get degrees.

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